Picturing the early tribes of Edain

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Elleth
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Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Elleth » Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:56 pm

Just found this little snippet in Tom Simon's "Writing Down the Dragon and other essays, On the Tolkien Method and the Craft of Fantasy"

The people of Hador were of what we should describe as a Scandinavian type; they were nearly all tall, blue-eyed and fair haired...
The people of Bëor ... bear a decided resemblance to the Brythonic Celts, and the woodland people of Haleth to the Finns.
"The Abyss and the Critics" p.137


As a bit of a reminder: the Dunedain are descended chiefly from the line of Bëor, with Sindarin admixture. The Rohirrim from Hador of course.
I still need to do a bit of re-reading to remember the rest, but it's an interesting guide to imagining our heroes nonetheless.

I fear I don't know where the author found that reference, but it's a chapter on the Children of Hurin, so I would imagine in Christopher Tolkien's explanatory notes on that work.
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Darnokthemage » Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:01 pm

Huh... perhaps one should take inspiration of the finns when picturing the folk from Enedwaith?
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Cimrandir » Sun May 10, 2020 5:29 am

I would be very very interested to learn the source for that claim. My own interpretation of the Dunedain is starting to lean toward late Post-Roman Britons and Early Saxon Migrations. It would be very nice to learn if I have a bit more of a case in the form of Brythonic Celts.
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Elleth » Sun May 10, 2020 11:08 am

Hrm - I'd thought it might have been drawn from Letters, but the only instance of that text string I see is a blog post that may have been from Simon himself. It certainly fits with the descriptions I've seen elsewhere, and I *suspect* it's drawn from some note Christopher Tolkien made or found in the compilation of Children of Hurin - but I can't say for certain. I've not the time to go chasing that rabbit trail this morning, but if I come across it again I'll leave an update here.

That said - I think it's entirely reasonable to assume Tolkien tracked ethnic traits and story roles seperately. The story of the Dunedain for example seems to draw heavily from early 20th c. fantasies of Atlantis and a heavy dose of early 20th century research into who we now call the proto-Indo-Europeans..... but from the physical descriptions of they and the Sindar they are mixed with, they seem to be generally fair skinned, black haired, and blue/grey eyed - neither classically Phoenician nor Aryan.

(In fact, though I can't prove it, I rather suspect the physical traits of the Dunedain ultimately arise from Edith Tolkien. Granted I'm a romantic - but I suspect the young professor could not help but imagine the great romantic heroine of his secondary world in the image of his lady love, and from Luthien follows the appearance of her Sindar people, and and and ... )

I think the echoes of Post-Roman Britain you see in the text are absolutely there - and the more Anglo-Saxon history I dig into, the more I see it. But I still think we should be careful about applying those parallels too closely.


edited for spelling/grammar
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Greg » Sun May 10, 2020 12:49 pm

Elleth wrote:But I still think we should be careful about applying those parallels too closely.


...lest we start to look like history itself, rather than an alternate history from a lost time..?

This is a fascinating thread. I don't have much to add right now, but I'm reading with interest.
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Cimrandir » Sun May 10, 2020 3:31 pm

I forget who said it on the forum but it ran something like Ranger looking like a 8th c. Anglian with the gear of a 18th c. longhunter carrying a 13th c. sword.

I've often thought about that as I start to plan my kit.

As you say Greg, one should be careful to remember that we aren't reenacting real history and should express an impression of a non-existent culture. But Tolkien did draw from history fairly deeply for his foundations in LOTR. So the question is where and how much to draw from real history? To achieve a "realistic" feeling to your work, I think care must be taken to present cultural cohesion and that's where I'm trying to decide how to begin.
I don't mind the longhunter angle and plan to probably include a few other touches from the 18th c. and sword-wise I'm undecided. Personally, I may be unduly influenced by a recent reading of Cornwell's Warlord Trilogy but the sort of mythic time full of magic set in the ruins of a former empire in the 5th to 7th century seems a good fit. Adding Middle-earth flourishes and influence to something along those lines would clinch it, I think.

Elleth wrote:That said - I think it's entirely reasonable to assume Tolkien tracked ethnic traits and story roles seperately. The story of the Dunedain for example seems to draw heavily from early 20th c. fantasies of Atlantis and a heavy dose of early 20th century research into who we now call the proto-Indo-Europeans..... but from the physical descriptions of they and the Sindar they are mixed with, they seem to be generally fair skinned, black haired, and blue/grey eyed - neither classically Phoenician nor Aryan.

(In fact, though I can't prove it, I rather suspect the physical traits of the Dunedain ultimately arise from Edith Tolkien. Granted I'm a romantic - but I suspect the young professor could not help but imagine the great romantic heroine of his secondary world in the image of his lady love, and from Luthien follows the appearance of her Sindar people, and and and ... )

I think the echoes of Post-Roman Britain you see in the text are absolutely there - and the more Anglo-Saxon history I dig into, the more I see it. But I still think we should be careful about applying those parallels too closely.


You make a very good point regarding the difference between "ethnic traits and story roles." Something I hadn't really thought about before and will need to consider. Luckily, I am both tall and dark haired. (Brown rather than black, darn it. :lol: )
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Udwin » Sun May 10, 2020 6:28 pm

Elleth wrote:Hrm - I'd thought it might have been drawn from Letters, but the only instance of that text string I see is a blog post that may have been from Simon himself. It certainly fits with the descriptions I've seen elsewhere, and I *suspect* it's drawn from some note Christopher Tolkien made or found in the compilation of Children of Hurin - but I can't say for certain


The closest I've found is from HoME Vol 12: Part Two – Late Writings: X Of Dwarves and Men: II. The Atani and their languages:
"The Folk of Hador were ever the greatest in numbers of the Atani, and in renown (save only Beren son of Barahir descendant of Beor). For the most part they were tall people, with flaxen or golden hair and blue-grey eyes, but there were not a few among them that had dark hair, though all were fair-skinned.(43). 43. No doubt this was due to mingling with Men of other kind in the past; and it was noted that the dark hair ran in families that had more skill and interest in crafts and lore."

“the observable physical differences between [Folk of Hador and Beor]. There were fair-haired men and women among the Folk of Beor, but most of them had brown hair (going usually with brown eyes), and many were less fair in skin, some indeed being swarthy. Men as tall as the Folk of Hador were rare among them, and most were broader and more heavy in build.(46) 46. Beren the Renowned had hair of a golden brown and grey eyes; he was taller than most of his kin, but he was broad-shouldered and very strong in his limbs.
[47. The Eldar said…that [the Folk of Hador] could not easily be distinguished from the Eldar—not while their youth lasted..."
Definitely getting a 'Nordic' vibe from Hador's folk.

"[During the early 2A] there were many men in Eriador, mainly, it would seem, in origin kin of the Folk of Beor, though some were kin of the Folk of Hador. They dwelt about Lake Evendim, in the North Downs and the Weather Hills, and in the lands between as far as the Brandywine, west of which they often wandered though they did not dwell there." Of these come the twelve Men of Eriador who meet Veantur on the Tower Hills in 600 2A. Presumably the Men of Bree are descended from them.

The Finns line is interesting since the folk of Haleth (who included Druedain members) are never given physical descriptions that I can find, but we know they are the ancestors of the Dunlendings:
"...many of the forest-dwellers of the shorelands south of the Ered Luin, especially in Minhiriath, were as later historians recognized the kin of the Folk of Haleth...this hatred [of Numenoreans] remained unappeased in their descendants, causing them to join with any enemies of Numenor. In the Third Age their survivors were the people known in Rohan as the Dunlendings.” (314)
And I'm not sure where the Men of the White Mountains (Isildur's oathbreakers, Tal-Elmar's village, builders of Dunharrow, etc) fit into this scheme, if they're meant to be folk of Haleth who settled along the way or if they're just non-Atani, indigenous Men from the 1A. And where do the Lossoth fit in??!?


As I've been pulling out a lot of Roman-Numenorean similarities of late, this is a timely discussion. It's a very delicate line to walk when we can draw clear parallels between M-e cultures and possible real-world analogues/inspirations...but we don't want to interpret a Roman centurion with Numenorean motifs added, we want to interpret an actual Numenorean!
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Udwin » Sun May 10, 2020 8:44 pm

Udwin wrote:And I'm not sure where the Men of the White Mountains (Isildur's oathbreakers, Tal-Elmar's village, builders of Dunharrow, etc) fit into this scheme, if they're meant to be folk of Haleth who settled along the way or if they're just non-Atani, indigenous Men from the 1A.

Further research partially answering my own questions. I've been deep-diving into The Peoples of Middle-earth this month, which is drafts of the Appendices and a couple post-LotR late writings which tend to be more detail-oriented and specific. I'm trying to keep things straight in my head.

"Wholly alien was the speech of the Wild Men of Drúadan Forest. Alien, too, or only remotely akin, was the language of the Dunlendings. These were a remnant of the peoples that had dwelt in the vales of the White Mountains in ages past. The Dead Men of Dunharrow were of their kin. But in the Dark Years others had removed to the southern dales of the Misty Mountains; and thence some had passed into the empty lands as far north as the Barrow-downs. From them came the Men of Bree; but long before these had become subjects of the North Kingdom of Arnor and had taken up the Westron tongue. Only in Dunland did Men of this race hold to their old speech and manners: a secret folk, unfriendly to the Dúnedain, hating the Rohirrim." Appendix F.

This seems at odds with the description of the Beorians who seem very similar to the Bree-Men, and the early 2A Men in Eriador (who live around what would become Bree) said to be "in origin kin of the Folk of Beor, though some were kin of the Folk of Hador."

So it sounds like way back in the 1A, Haleth's folk slowly work their way towards Beleriand and 'seed' the White Mountains with this pre-Numenorean stock. Can we also infer that the Dunland language is directly descended from Haleth's, and is non-Adunaic in origin? I still wonder where the Men of the southern White Mountains came from?
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Elleth » Sun May 10, 2020 9:09 pm

Udwin -

Given what you're researching, I think you might want to look at Codex Regius' "Middle-earth seen by the barbarians."

middle-earth-seen-by-barbarians.jpg
middle-earth-seen-by-barbarians.jpg (51.36 KiB) Viewed 2238 times

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I8G6XAS/

It's fan-work, so I doubt you'll find anything there you won't find in the original sources you have already. But - it's cheap, and I suspect it will save you a fair amount of legwork as the author's spent a lot of time chasing down rabbit trails asking similar questions.

:)
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Cimrandir » Sun May 17, 2020 8:05 pm

So this is perhaps off-topic but it might be tangentially related so I’ll ask here until someone tells me to go elsewhere. So I’m read that originally Tolkien had the thought that Lord of the Rings would provide a mythology for England as he felt that England had no mythology of it’s own. Now I’ve read that this mythology basis is now discredited and outdated. I have not read a primary source for this so I’m curious why it’s not deemed credible.

Should that the “mythology for England” still be a credible thought, I am still curious about the Celtic Britain connection. I may be biased toward that interpretation so feel free to correct me. Given that the Celts are generally the “first” Britons and the Anglo Saxons the later Germanics settlers, I wonder if he was influenced in his thought process by the fact that the old ways of the British were destroyed by the Romans and then assimilated by the Saxon migration. Not “true” British anymore, so to speak. I’m wondering if he was thinking about the mythology before the Romans came when he wrote he was disappointed in not having a national myth for England.
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Elleth » Sun May 17, 2020 8:49 pm

So I’m read that originally Tolkien had the thought that Lord of the Rings would provide a mythology for England as he felt that England had no mythology of it’s own. Now I’ve read that this mythology basis is now discredited and outdated. I have not read a primary source for this so I’m curious why it’s not deemed credible.


First, the destruction of national myth he refers to is I believe pretty conclusively known to refer to the Norman destruction of Saxon culture post-AD1066.
As an aside - unless you really start digging into pre-Norman history, it's hard to appreciate HOW ENOURMOUS the displacement was at the time. From our perspective a thousand years later you look at these funny people sewn into the Bayeux Tapestry and can hardly tell them apart. "Funny medieval people before, funny medieval people after" - it doesn't seem a big thing.

At the time, it was doomsday.
It's truly staggering how much was lost.

Anyhow, regarding how Tolkien's myth fits real history-
I think the return of the Dunedain to Middle-earth echoes the coming of the Romans to Britain, and the displacement of Dundlendings mirrors that of the pre-Roman Brythonic peoples retreating into the mountains of Wales.

But Romans and Welsh and Finns and Greeks are so far into "future" of LotR that I think any attempt to map the narrative of the books to real world peoples would be something of a forced fit and none too kind to either story or history - and I think that was as much true with history as it was known in Tolkien's day as in ours.

As to "discredited" - I'm curious to hear the complaint. Certainly there were interesting bits of both real history and esoteric woo bopping around in the early 20th century that deeply informed his "mariner people from a sunken Atlantis" mythos. Perhaps that's the part the comment you remember refers to?

Regardless, I've been meaning to look more deeply into those wellsprings he was drawing from at some point. From the little I've looked into it, the study of pre-historical population migrations in Europe is at present.... fraught to say the least. And the scholarship of the early 20th c. far more so. Still, it would be an interesting read.
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Re: Picturing the early tribes of Edain

Postby Cimrandir » Sun May 17, 2020 9:29 pm

Ah, the Norman invasion. Of course, how silly of me to think otherwise. I think I am trying to hard to map Middle-earth cultures onto real-life ones.

Regarding the discredited (?) mythology for England concept, after some searching I realized I read it on this very forum.

From Udwin

HOWEVER, as you say, the Book of Lost Tales material is part of the earlier (and eventually abandoned) 'Mythology for England' concept.


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